Sony to Invest Several Million Dollars in Israeli Interactive-video Startup

Sony Pictures Entertainment poised to invest millions in Interlude, which has developed technology allowing viewers to alter plots of shows.

Yoni Bloch, left and Barak Feldman,founders of the Interlude interactive-video startup company in Israel.
David Bachar

Sony Pictures Entertainment will invest several million dollars in Israeli startup Interlude, The Los Angeles Times has reported.

The company, founded by Yoni Bloch and Barak Feldman, develops interactive videos that allow the viewer to choose his own narrative and thus participate in creating the story.

In MTV’s “Scream” series, for example, viewers can choose among different icons that can either make one of them hide behind a door or not, thus influencing how they will die in one way or another.

Sony’s investment in Interlude follows others by media giants like MGM and Warner Music, who have plunked down millions of dollars already. In fact, Interlude has attracted no less than $40 million so far, and that looks like just the beginning.

As part of Sony’s investment, it will produce 4-5 digital series that will be offered for free on the company’s Facebook page. These web series will probably encompass different genres, including police, comedy and horror shows, with each one lasting from 8 to 20 minutes.

“This strikes me as a very innovative and new way to tell a story, and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen branching story lines that were compelling and that worked,” said Michael Lynton, chief executive of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Sony also announced that director Will Gluck would oversee its new projects. Gluck directed “Friends with Benefits” as well as “Annie.”

Interlude’s success comes after two major deals, first with CBS to produce an interactive version of the cult series “The Twilight Zone,” and with MGM to reboot the 1983 thriller “War Games.”

"Now you can put someone inside a story, and not in a gimmicky way,” said Bloch, Interlude’s CEO. “By making something that people participate in, everybody stays much longer.”

“The first four or five of these are stories that are very relatable and accessible,” said Gluck, according to the Times. “We’re not in a niche game here.”

Interlude’s success came after creation of various interactive clips, among them one for Bob Dylan that Time Magazine named “Clip of the Year.”

The company integrates impressive creativity and ingenuity with a technological platform that addresses one of Hollywood’s most serious problems: the flow of young viewers to the social networks and their lack of patience for traditional commercial television. Studio owners are betting that the interactive platform will create a dialogue with young viewers, who will find the innovation attractive enough to stay on and form a loyal viewer base.